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How to Increase Metabolism: Stretching? Cardio? Strength Training?

Alexandra, Dr Hill, stretching, piggy back, how to increase metabolism

Alexandra demos how to stretch while boosting metabolism (not hers, his!)

Dear K and A: How to increase metabolism? How?! I’ve been told that stretching after a workout of strength training boosts your metabolic rate. If that’s true, how long should I stretch to get the good stuff going? In all the years I’ve been going to the gym, I’ve never seen anyone stretch after lifting.  Mary, Holland, MI

Can stretching increase metabolism

Stretch Your Muscles For the Good Stuff

Alexandra: Ah, Mary Mary Mary, you have inadvertently asked several questions!

  1. How to speed up your metabolism, especially for women over 50.
  2. What’s the relationship between stretching and strength training?
  3. Is stretching post workout the best way to increase metabolic rate?

Let’s tackle these questions separately.

Stretching is excellent post-workout (not pre-workout) as it:

  • increases range of motion about a joint or group of joints
  • may elicit positive long-term performance outcomes
  • enhances flexibility (intrinsic property of muscles and joints to go through full or optimal range of motion
  • is an effective intervention for prevention of falls
  • assists in more effective performance of daily living activities

Sources: Thacker et al. 2004; Safran et al. 1988; Woods, Bishop & Jones 2007; Kerrigan et al. 2001; and Misner et al. 1992.

What's the relationship between stretching and strength training? Click To Tweet

That is my diplomatic way of saying that stretching after your workout makes you healthy, wealthy, and wise, but doesn’t have a link to an increased metabolic rate. So how to increase metabolism? Not via stretching. You speed up your metabolic rate by following the suggestions in this post: How Can I Speed Up My Metabolism?

How can you speed up your metabolism, especially if you're a woman over 50? Click To Tweet

I am going to make a wild leap into the Abyss of Assumption here, and say you are looking to burn calories at a higher rate for a longer time? If so, read How Do I Lose Weight but not Bulk Up . It will show how smart you are for doing strength training!

Leap for health and metabolic boost

Leaping Across the Abyss of Assumptions

Kymberly: More good news about boosting your metabolic rate with exercise:  Women who do 40 minutes of cardio exercise at 80 percent of maximum heart rate (fairly intense but not exceedingly so) increase their caloric expenditure for the next 19 hours.  So both weight training AND cardio workouts metabolically zoom you up afterward. Sort of the caffeine of the workout world, eh? Whoa doggies, that’s pretty exciting stuff!

Alexandra: Is it possible you heard the water-cooler discussions about high-intensity interval training, increased metabolic rate and stretching? If so, that is referring to the recovery or “corrective” stretching that comes between short, intense bursts of cardio activity. But that’s not strength training, and the metabolic effect is from the cardio bursts.

Alexandra planking at Lizard's Mouth

Alexandra Looks into the Abyss and Likes What She Sees

Kymberly: As to why people do not stretch after weight training, we can only surmise that it’s lack of education sometimes disguised in their minds as lack of time. Saying they’re “flexibility losers” is just not in us. We can say we found nada, zip, bupkus about stretching helping metabolic rate. (Actually I can say Alexandra found nothing as she did all the research work this time around. Go twin sissie! I was busy watching soccer on tv. And the players did stretch afterwards. Go soccer!) We do advocate relengthening muscles shortened in training. And we’ve covered how to increase metabolic rate post workout. That’s a wrap here at F and F!

Alexandra: I think I’ll just get bossy and tell you to keep stretching cuz it’s good for ya, and keep at the strength training for the same reason.

Kymberly: Lastly, check out our post Stretch Before or After Running, Walking, Fighting?. Then when you do your stretches post-workout, stare at the others as if you are superior and know something they don’t …cuz’ it’s probably true.

ACTION: Subscribe (and strength train a wee bit) if you have not already. Click this link to see what awaits you on the other side. Hint: It’s a bonus that will help you be more capable, confident, and comfortable in your own body. 

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

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